Robert Wilkinson - IT Consultancy for Citrix | Microsoft | VMWare | End User Computing

IE on virtual servers

Is Internet explorer really slow in Remote Desktop Services or Citrix on Virtual servers? – Optimizing IE without GPU Hardware Acceleration


Ever noticed that most modern websites are becoming more and more graphically intensive placing high demand on the graphics processing unit of a shared multi user session terminal server. This is compounded hugely when the terminal server is a virtual server instance with no Hardware GPU, in a cloud data centre.


Typical issues are often overlooked by most consultants:
  • No Hardware based graphics acceleration (GPU) for Virtual instances or GPU pass-through capability
  • No automatic optimization of the chosen browser for shared use cases
  • Poorly controlled browser add-ons and extensions
Steps in improving performance are as follows:
  • Ensure Software Rendering is ENABLED for virtual servers where it is simply not possible to access the hardware graphics card. Failure to do so results in very poor browser experiences. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2528233
  • Disabled Unwanted Add-ons
  • Adobe Flash is a dying trend, Check your Flash add-ons. HTML5 video rendering is new, However Citrix HDX developers are slow on the uptake and still use flash. So Optimize Flash too.
  • Remember to install both Java 32bit and Java 64bit clients
  • Use all tools for discovery and planning your websites Compatibility, Enterprise Site List Manager
  • Test your websites thoroughly. F12 is your friend! Use it and try changing browser emulation modes adding websites to compatibility view mode.

Alternatives:

  • Could we use Chrome Browser?- BE CAREFUL – Citrix do not support HDX offload redirection for CHROME browsers or any other browser. Check with Citrix Dev news on this. I believe this being researched at the moment.
  • For Virtual servers you could invest in NVIDIA Grid2 which gives fantastic graphics performance per virtual server. http://www.nvidia.com/object/grid-technology.html
  • Also, later hypervisors (XenServer 6.5 sp1/VMWare VSphere are now supporting the later Intel GPU chipsets with better GPU pass-through capability.

Full Desktop or Remote Apps?

Does the browser need to be used in Remote Desktop Services? Why not keep the graphical demands of the internet browser local to the end user computer where a hardware GPU exists and use remote apps. (There are advantages and disadvantages of this, of course!)